Archive for Sheep

Where to buy mutton

 Many people come to us at Phepson Farm when they are looking to buy mutton. We are now sold out for Christmas, but you can usually find a local supplier with good quality mutton for sale if you try.

UPDATE 16.12.2010 – Now taking orders for 2011….

We supply locally because we like to know the customers and deliver in the local area. It also helps to keep our focus on our local customers as they tend to be more loyal in the long-term. Having said that we have some very loyal people who order online and just prefer our rare breed mutton to what they can get locally.

If in doubt about a supplier you can always check out the mutton renaissance website for good suppliers.

A quick guide to buying mutton:

1. Try and buy rare/traditional breeds where possible – it will be more fatty and therefore more flavoursome.

2. Make sure it IS actually mutton. Mutton is over 2 years old and if good quality then under 5. You see a lot of hogget lamb (1-2 years) sold as mutton. Goat is also called mutton in Caribbean cooking.

3. Your mutton should be hung for at least 2 weeks or it will be tough – this is why it often gets a bad reputation. Also avoid phrases like “aged 21 days”. Words like “aged” or “matured” usually mean something nasty has been injected to mimick hanging. Hanging meat is expensive so expect to pay more for this.

4. For roasts I would always go for shoulders over legs and rolled breasts over loins. Chops for a slow cooked stew, leg steaks are great for frying or stripped for a stir fry and the tender-loin and neck fillets are to die for in a mutton stew or mutton curry.

5. When you get it home cook it slowly! With such great flavour it’s important you treat it with great care.



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You get out what you put in

You would have thought that since I produce the finest quality mutton and lamb that I would be pretty familiar with the above rule of thumb. You would have thought…

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Turning out the Ram


The start of the shepherds year comes round again. Only 5 months less 5 days and we’ll have the next generation of Wiltshire lambs on the way.

I’m particularly pleased with my rams this year. I have the 2009 champion ram lamb from the national show and sale and the sire of the top priced pen of 5 ewes from the 2010 sale. Having seen some of the ram lambs offspring from last year its all looking good for next years crop.


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Decisions, Decisions….

All this snow is affecting our production. With the best will in the world feeding species rich hay is not enough to fatten sheep in snow conditions.

As a result we haven’t been able to take any to slaughter for a while now.

I could take them leaner – but that would impact quality of the meat (less fat is not good).

I could feed them concentrate feed to fatten them – but then they wouldn’t taste as good.

Looks like I’ll have to wait and do a bit more selling in the spring.

Who brought up this whole food integrity thing anyway?


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Lambing Time is nearly upon us

With all the sheep in the barns it reminds me that lambing is soon upon us.

When feeding the sheep there is no better sight than a row of bodies happily feeding – sheep always look happy when feeding.

When it’s cold outside – and it has been really cold – the extra warmth of the sheep in the barns makes them feel cosy and secure. Watching all your prize ewes sitting comfortably on a fresh warm bed of straw, with a full belly and chewing their cud has a hypnotic and comforting feeling to it.

When things have been busy with lambing and you’re still in the barn in the early hours the lambing sheds seem quite serrene (until the next one starts lambing). I sometimes just sit on the straw and take it all in, picking up the contented vibes from all the contented sheep (and I have been known to fall asleep).

My grandfather didn’t believe stress existed – “all in the mind” – he used to say. But if it does I think an hour in the barn at lambing time would be better value than any “proffesional” help I can think of.


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With all the snow things are Hectic


Even when things are crazy and your system is compromised by something like the snow It’s reasuring to recognise that the focus on quality pays off even now.

With all the snow all the sheep have come inside so they are not grazing the wildflower pastures at present. However, because all my conserved forage (hay and haylage) is from wildflower grasslands they are still getting great nutrition and their meat is still infused with the wild herb flavour. Sticking to a positive system seems to always lead to a positive feedback.


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Turning out the Ram

In some ways this is the start of the shepherds year.

When we turn out the Ram for tupping tomorrow it signals that start of the whole process of life on the farm. From now on new life will once again be growing on the farm.

This year I bought the champion Ram lamb from the national Wiltshire Horn Show and Sale. He cost a pretty penny and looks a million dollars. We will only put him to 20 ewes this year as we don’t want to work him too hard in his first year. The sense of anticipation you get when turn them out is great.

Will his offspring live up to their illustrious father? Will they be easy lambing and quick to stand/grow?

Doric on the run…..We’ll find out in the spring.


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